Christchurch and East Dorset review delivery of tourist information

Posted on 07 August 2013 by Christchurch and East Dorset Councils

The Christchurch and East Dorset Partnership is reviewing the way it provides tourism information now and in the future.

The way potential visitors to the area look for information is changing to more online sources, and that has influenced the decisions that the Partnership is taking.

In Christchurch, the proposal is that the Council will no longer be involved in the running of the Information Centre. However, the provision of tourist information to visitors will in future be provided by volunteers at the Regent Centre, which is located next door to the Information Centre. Some building work would take place to integrate the Information Centre building into the Regent Centre. The Council will assist the Regent Centre in setting up the new service.

John Teather, Chairman of the Regent Centre Board of Directors, said: “The Board are very keen to integrate the Information Centre and the Regent Centre to provide a seamless experience for visitors. They will be able to find out about the town and wider area and what it offers, perhaps buy a ticket for a film or show, buy a cup of coffee, then pass seamlessly into the foyer to view the exhibition and sit and soak-up the atmosphere. We are confident that we can continue to provide a good level of service to the public.”

In East Dorset a similar opportunity for the Wimborne Tourist Information Centre is being explored for a third party to take over the service although there is nothing finalised at present. In the event that no other proposals are forthcoming, the Information Centre would close in November 2013.

It is proposed that other services currently run by the Tourism Departments at both Councils will be absorbed by other departments or outside organisations and the online presence for tourism would be enhanced.

Matti Raudsepp, Head of Leisure and Open Spaces at the Christchurch and East Dorset Partnership, said: “This has not been an easy decision to make, but we are following the lead other councils from across the UK have taken to provide information for tourists in a different way. Most people now go online to find the information about an area when planning a visit and that has made the need for dedicated tourist information centres significantly less relevant than they once were.

“The Regent Centre will be maintaining an information service in Christchurch and we are still in discussions with regard to an information service being maintained in some way in Wimborne.

“However, it is clear that, given the ongoing reductions in funding from central government, councils must provide a tourism service that meets modern demands. We will be developing our online services and social media to provide information in a more relevant way for modern needs.”

Final decisions concerning proposals for the Information Centres will go before councillors in September.

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For more information, please contact:

Link to Christchurch Borough Council contact information
Christchurch Borough Council
Civic Offices
Bridge Street
Christchurch
Dorset
BH23 1AZ
Or email us:
communications@christchurchandeastdorset.gov.uk

Or call us:
01202 495133

Or fax us:
01202 495234
Link to East Dorset District Council contact information
East Dorset District Council
Council Offices
Furzehill
Wimborne
Dorset
BH21 4HN
Or email us:
communications@christchurchandeastdorset.gov.uk

Or call us:
01202 639034

Or fax us:
01202 841390
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7 Comments For This Post

  1. Rob Cope Says:

    I’ve just been in Wimborne TIC & heard about the closure threat. I come to Wimborne every year with my family. One reason is that Wimborne is the sort of well-organised town that recognises the importance of things like good TICs. I get lots of information there and then spend money at the venues publicised! E Dorset, you are shooting yourself in the foot. Tourists don’t always have online facilities with them – have you tried any more than basic searching on a smartphone? The TIC staff are excellent & you are treating them shabbily. Shame on you.

  2. Christchurch Borough Council Says:

    Thank you for your comment. Discussions are still ongoing with regard to an information service being maintained in some way in Wimborne.

  3. Michael bridger Says:

    As a local resident surely tourism should be invested in rather than scaled down- tourism can boost the town and number of visitors which in turn spend money in town rather than going to larger towns like Bmouth and Poole- Ferndown has so many empty shops now and is dying you surely want every opportunity to stop that happening in Wimborne

  4. Susan Cowsill Says:

    This tourist information centre not only provides a service for the many tourists who visit Wimborne but also for the local residents, many of whom are older or disabled people and who may not have internet access. We also have residents who cannot afford computers. Closing this office will mean that a valuable source of local information is being denied to them- making involvment in the local community activities even more difficult for them, and causing more social isolation.

    I would like to see the Equality Impact Assessment that was undertaken before making this decision. If (as often happens) the question “Will there be a disproportionate negative impact upon any particular group with protected characteristics” is answered “NO” for all groups then I think you should seriously consider re-doing the impact assessment. I cannot find a published impact statement on your website. Does one exist?

    You say is was not an easy decision to make. I would challenge that statement. It is easy to get rid of something that you do not have to use yourself.

  5. Christchurch Borough Council Says:

    Thank you for your comment. No final decisions have been made at this stage. A report detailing the proposals for the Tourist Information Centres in Christchurch and East Dorset will go to Councillors in September for consideration and part of that report will include a full Equality Impact Assessment. The Council’s preferred option is to find a third party organisation to take on the running of the Tourist Information Centre in Wimborne, as has been arranged in Christchurch, and we are still in discussions with regard to an information service being maintained in some way. Closure of the Information Centre would be a last resort.

  6. Chris Brown Says:

    There are many aspects of this decision that troubles many resdients of East Dorset.

    1. Why has their been no public consultation upon this matter? It suits the council to do consultations over some things but not over others where their might be a result you don’t want to hear? Another example is the ill conceived proposed closure of the Old Road Car Park in the town centre.

    2. How come arrangements were discussed, negotiated and agreed for Christchurch TIC with the Regent’s Centre before the announcement was made but no such arrangement in Wimborne?

    3. Why are not similar transitions arrangements proposed regarding the future as with some other services EDDC is reviewing where a three year cushion of continued funding for staff is in place to allow for other options to be fully explored and established?

    4. None of the subsequent comments from EDDC answer the question about “on line access” that have been raised.

    5. Has there been an economic impact assessment on the town of this closure?

    6. What is the cost of running the Wimborne Tourist Office per annum and what is it’s annual income?

    http://www.skankingdelights.com has a 20 minute programme upon it with local reactions to the proposal which was first broadcast on Forest FM Monday 11th August.

    Thank you

  7. Christchurch Borough Council Says:

    Thank you for your comments. We understand that this announcement has caused some concerns within the Wimborne community but we would like to stress that no decisions have been made yet. We are still in discussions with organisations in the town and would hope for a successful outcome which would mean that an information service could be continued in Wimborne.

    We also understand that tourism has economic benefits for the area and are proposing to deliver aspects of tourism promotion through a strengthened Economic Development service.

    Councillors meet to debate this issue on 25 September, when these, and other, questions will be debated and a final decision will be made.

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